For most, spring means blooming flowers and blossoming trees. But for the 20% of the population who suffer from allergies, the season means sneezing, congestion, itchy eyes, even asthma. While many allergies can be controlled with the occasional use of an over-the-counter medication, some can interfere with day-to-day activities, can decrease a person’s quality of life and in certain circumstances even be life threatening. That’s where an Allergist or Immunologist comes in.
Allergists and Immunologists are trained to prevent, diagnose, manage, and treat allergic disease. In their field of Allergy and Immunology – a subspecialty of internal medicine and pediatrics – allergists/immunologists specialize in managing immune system disorders, such as allergies, asthma, inherited immunodeficiency diseases and autoimmune diseases.
With only 30 Allergists/Immunologists in BC, the specialty is currently facing a severe shortage making it difficult for patients to be referred. The development of UBC’s Adult and Pediatric Allergy and Clinical Immunology training program is helping though, and Dr Seung Kim, President of the BC Society of Allergy & Immunology, says he is “seeing more trained Allergists going into clinical practice” because of it.
Allergists and Immunologists work with patients of all ages, and with a wide range of allergic and immunologic diseases. Luckily, a number of these diseases have very effective treatment options. “People with allergies can live healthy and active lives,” says Dr Seung Kim. “And a lot of joy comes from witnessing significant improvements in a patient’s quality of life.”
The Specialist Services Committee continues to work with this section to identify issues it can help to address.